United By Pop received a free copy of ‘Life In A Fishbowl’ in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.
Author: Len Vlahos
Title: Life In A Fish Bowl
Overall rating: 4.5/5
Great for: Laughing, crying, people who enjoy easy to pick up and put down books.
Themes: Grief, reality television, controlling behaviour, online friendships, being an outsider
Review: I’ll be honest with you when I read the blurb of ‘Life In A Fishbowl’ it didn’t make me want to pick up the book and start reading it. That’s not because the writing sounding particularly bad, or the characters weren’t likeable, no. It’s because it struck a personal chord with me.
For you to understand why this book affected me so much you need to know a little bit about me. I grew up with two loving, and sometimes dysfunctional parents. I was also fortunate enough to be loved unconditionally be their friends who couldn’t have children, my second parents.
Like a lot of people, I’ve been affected by cancer and terminal illnesses. That’s why this book really hit a nerve with me. The initial positivity after diagnoses, the resentment for people who seem to be going about their lives without a care in the world, and the sudden demoralising decline are all real life things.
‘Life In A Fishbowl’ follows the story of the Stone family and their struggle to cope after the diagnoses of Jared’s terminal brain tumour. Panicking and worrying about how his family are to survive after he’s gone, Jared attempts to sell himself on eBay – only for it to be taken down due to the complaint of a TV executive with an ulterior motive.
With little options left, the family decide to bite the bullet and agree to a reality TV series; documenting Jared’s last days and the family turmoil at such a stressful time. Only, the lack of privacy, the editing and the strain on the family prove too much for Jackie, the oldest child.
Told from multiple viewpoints Jared Stone, Sherman Kingsborough (a billionaire who thinks he can do anything), Sister Benedict (a nun who becomes obsessed with Jared’s predicament), Ethan Overbee (the controlling TV producer), Deadrie (Jared’s wife and Jackie’s mum), the tumour itself and Jackie and Megan Stone. You can’t help but feel a connection to one or all of the distinctly unique and well-developed characters.
Although the book ultimately deals with sensitive issues, it’s done so in a way that’s relatable and dare I say it… refreshing. From the very start, Jackie is portrayed as the outsider, she’s not popular at school and that doesn’t bother her. She’s shy when talking to boys and doesn’t give in to conventions. With the discovery of an online network of friends, she’s able to connect with people on a level she’s never been able to before, and group together to stop the insensitive reality show.
‘Life In A Fishbowl’ could not be a more fitting title and metaphor for this daring young adult read.